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Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Three Crucial Considerations before Buying a Conservatory

If you’re anything like the rest of us, you want to enjoy your garden all year round.

For most green-fingered Brits, however, the volatility of the weather in Dear Old Blighty is enough to make even the most serene gardener shake an angry fist at the threatening clouds above.

At this time of year, even when the sun is shining, it’s normally cold enough to break the smoke off your chimney, which makes sitting outside in your garden akin to an Arctic expedition.
But this is where a conservatory is worth its weight in gold.

Whatever the forecast, conservatories offer an agreeable space to take pleasure in your pansies or bask in your bellflowers, as well as adding around £9,000 to the value of your property.

Far from being a passing fancy, there are well over four million homes in the UK boasting a conservatory, with hundreds of thousands more being constructed every year.

Interested? Check out our three crucial considerations before you hotfoot it to Conservatories R Us (that’s not a real place) in a desperate bid to join the ranks ...

Select Your Style Carefully
Whether you live in a mock-Georgian mansion or a contemporary grand design, it’s important the conservatory you choose blends with the existing style of your home. Why? Because if you get the style wrong, it’s much like giving a horse a pair of stilettos – it just doesn’t work.

As a result, most folk tend to opt for a Victorian or Edwardian style of conservatory if they have a more traditional home. If you home is fairly new, however, it’s important to speak to your conservatory specialist to find a modern style that won’t stick out like a very expensive sore thumb.

Learn About Planning Permission
It’s natural to imagine that erecting a new structure onto the back of your home would require reams and reams of paperwork – but adding a conservatory is actually considered a permitted development, which means it doesn’t require a planning permission application.

However, according to the government’s Planning Portal, a single-story rear conservatory must not be higher than four metres or higher than the highest part of your roof. For further details, and to avoid the wrath of your local authority, familiarise yourself with the full guide here.

Chew Over Your Glazing Requirements
When you fork out for a new conservatory, it’s understandable you want to use your investment all year round – and choosing the appropriate glazing, which will also make it energy efficient and reduce your heating bills, is a crucial part of making that happen.

Therefore, be sure to choose a glass with a low U-value, especially if it faces north and receives less sunlight, which means heat will be trapped during the colder months, keeping you and your family warm without turning up the thermostat.

Fancy having your say?

Let us know what else our readers should consider when buying a conservatory by leaving a comment below – we’d love to hear from you. 

Garden Tool Care

How often does this happen to you? After a heavy but satisfying day in the garden of weeding, pruning or digging, the hot bath and the drink with your name on it are calling to you. You know you really should clean your tools before putting them away, but surely that’ll wait until tomorrow? Carrying out simple maintenance directly after using your tools should make them last, but if you do need to replace, never buy ‘cheap and cheerful’. 

Clean dirt and debris
Make sure you wash the dirt off thoroughly. Use a hose and if you’ve let the dirt dry, have a stiff brush handy to remove stubborn bits. If your pruning shears have sap on them, you may need a solvent to shift this. after using lawn mowers or strimmers remove the grass from the tool before putting back into the shed. It may seem obvious but once the tool is clean, dry it completely. Have a towel handy in the shed or garage for this purpose. 

Protection
Even if you think your tools are rustproof, it’s still a sensible idea to oil them. This has the added benefit of stopping them seizing up, and makes using them much easier.

Sharpening
During the winter, it’s a good idea to have some tools sharpened, depending on how much they’ve been used. Spades, trowels, hoes and forks all benefit from sharpening. You could use a grinder or sharpening file and do it yourself, or take it to a garden centre that offers this service. Hedgetrimmers, etc, should probably be left to a professional. 

Power Tools
As careful as you might be with corded power tools, it’s worth checking the cables on a regular basis for splits, nasty kinks or frays. If you catch problems early, they can be easily rectified; far better than taking a trip in an ambulance!

Simple Checks
Check those handles. Imagine what damage a pick axe could do if the handle was loose. Wooden handles are prone to drying out and splitting, so you may need to replace some. 

Storage
If your garden tools are all piled in a corner or shoved in a shed, isn’t it more difficult to find what you need? Having a peg board for smaller items and wall hooks for larger tools can make life much easier. It also keeps them off the ground, where the damp can reach them.  

If you love gardening, then you should also love your tools. The amount of time invested in maintaining them will pay dividends.
DG

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Top 10 UK Gardening Blogs

There are lots of Gardening blogs out there, but what to read when you have finished out latest articles?

Here is a list of the top ten you really should include in your regular reading pleasure.

9.  Loose and Leafy

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